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My First Foray Onto the Sun Op-Ed Page

As an undergraduate I mostly busied my free time with research for the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. But I also found some spare time to write some movie, music, and book reviews for the Sun's Red Letter Daze. And at a certain point, I even considered becoming an opinion writer for the Sun. That never happened. Until today, when Sammy Perlmutter '10 graciously agreed to run a piece that had been kicking around my head for a long time.

Longtime readers of this website will not find the topic -- the possible reorganization of the undergraduate colleges to both improve the academic experience and streamline the budget-- a new one. It's something that I have been hinting at and nibbling around the edges with for awhile, especially as the TAM consolidation has foreshadowed future academic changes on campus.

Space was a concern, though. And for every idea that made it into the article, two more ended up on the editing block, and I could have really used some more examples to demonstrate my point. I'll be following up over the weekend with some more thoughts. But until then, I would love to read any feedback, either via my own email or the Sun's website.

In the face of the current economic downturn and New York’s fiscal woes, President Skorton recently asserted the need to “reconfigure” our beloved Cornell. The time is opportune to rethink how departments and colleges are positioned across East Hill. By doing so, we can not only streamline the University’s budget and cut through the Big Red Tape, but also improve the undergraduate experience and strengthen Cornell’s role as a land-grant institution.

Nowhere is this need greater than in the applied social sciences. Today, applied programs featuring faculty in the fields of economics, psychology, government, business and sociology are found in all three of the undergraduate contract colleges in an inefficient mix of departments and students.

While good historical reasons exist for the current arrangement, the simple truth is that many of Cornell’s departmental and college-level distinctions puzzle prospective students, faculty recruits and outside observers alike. Not only do they dilute the academic experience for many Cornellians, but they can also foster unhealthy budgetary and programmatic competition between the colleges.

The rest is on the Sun's website.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 10, 2009 (#)

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